Annual Report on Human Rights 2015

The EU Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world 2015 and the EU policy on the matter (A8-0355/2016)  was adopted by the European Parliament on 14 December 2016, and contained more references to caste based discrimination than ever before.

Referring to the EU resolution on caste-based discrimination from 2013 and the recent report by the UN Special Rapporteur on minorities issues (January 2016) on discrimination based on caste and analogous systems of inherited status (A/HRC/31/56), the report condemned the continued human rights violations against people suffering from caste-based discrimination.

The Annual Report called for an EU policy development on caste discrimination and for the EU “to use every opportunity to express its grave concern over caste discrimination”:

-having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste-based discrimination1 and to the report of 28 January 2016 on minorities and caste-based discrimination by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.

Fight against all forms of discrimination

  1. Condemns in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, culture, religion or belief, social origin, caste, birth, age, disability or any other status; reiterates its call for a strengthened EU policy and diplomacy that should aim to eradicate all forms of discrimination, and to use every opportunity to express its grave concern over such discriminations; urges, furthermore, that the EU continues to promote the ratification and full implementation of all relevant UN conventions, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; welcomes the EEAS work on an anti-discrimination handbook;

Rights of persons affected by caste discrimination

  1. Condemns the continuing human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste hierarchies and caste-based discrimination, including the denial of equality and of access to the legal system and to employment, and the continued segregation and caste-induced barriers to the achievement of basic human rights and development; is deeply concerned by the alarming rate of caste-based violent attacks on Dalits and of institutionalised discrimination with impunity; reiterates its call for an EU policy development on caste discrimination, and calls on the EU to use every opportunity to express its grave concern over caste discrimination;

Read IDSN news article here

Full report A8-0355/2016 is available for download here  

See the joint letter from MEPs with and appeal for the EU foreign policy chief to address caste discrimination here  

Annual Report on Human Rights 2014

On 17 December 2015, the European Parliament adopted its resolution (2015/2229(INI)) on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the EU policy on the matter.

The European Parliament takes note of caste discrimination in the preamble:

                -“having regard to the resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste discrimination”

The European Parliament condemns discrimination based on caste on a par with other status such as race, gender and social origin (paragraph 92):

  • “Condemns in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, culture, religion or belief, social origin, caste, birth, age, disability or any other status; urges that the EU intensify its efforts to eradicate all types of   discrimination, racism and xenophobia through human rights and political dialogues, the work of the EU Delegations and public diplomacy; further urges that the EU continue to promote the ratification and full implementation of all UN conventions that support this cause, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”;

In paragraph 95, the European Parliament addresses its concerns on caste discrimination:

  • On caste-based discrimination the European Parliament notes with great concern the scale and consequences of caste-based discrimination and recommends the mainstreaming of the topic in the EEAS and Commission guidelines and action plans, in particular in the EU fight against all forms of discrimination, and in efforts to combat violence against women and girls and all forms of discrimination against them”; 

Annual Report on Human Rights 2013

On 12 March 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013. For the first time, a separate section on caste-based discrimination was included in the EU Resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World.

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste-based discrimination

Caste-based discrimination

  1. Condemns the continuing human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste hierarchies and caste-based discrimination, including the denial of equality and of access to the legal system and to employment, continued segregation and caste-induced barriers to the achievement of basic human rights and development; calls for the EU to adopt a policy aimed at directing action for the elimination of caste-based discrimination and to include policy objectives on caste-based discrimination in its new EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy.

Full text of the Resolution

EP Resolutions on the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and on the Development Co-operation Instrument (DCI)

The European Instrument for the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) 2014-2020 specifically mentions caste as a ground of discrimination to be addressed on par with other forms of discrimination. This is also reflected in The Multi-Annual Indicative Programme for EIDHR 2014-2020which includes wording on “fighting discrimination based on caste, work, descent or gender identity” and hence guarantees that “support will be provided to civil society organizations working for the promotion of those rights and support to programmes and policies also in these areas”. References to caste discrimination were also included in the resolution on the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI).

EU 2013 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World:

The report includes key references to caste-based discrimination in the chapters on India, Nepal and Pakistan. See the caste references here and read the full report here 

EP resolution on Annual Report on human rights in the world 2012

On 11 December 2013, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2012 and the European Union’s policy on the matter. The resolution included the following references to caste discrimination:

  • 75.  Calls for the European Union to embark on a coordinated and inclusive strategy in the Sahel to improve security in the region on the one hand and to promote human rights on the other, so that human rights violations such as torture, the often arbitrary arrest of opponents and journalists, the suppression of peaceful demonstrations, acts of violence against women such as rape, forced marriage or genital mutilation, and ethnic or caste-based discrimination come to an end, thereby helping to establish the rule of law guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms;
  • 111.  Recalls the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to the rights and freedoms therein without distinction of any kind; stresses the importance of fighting all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion,caste, social origin, culture, age, birth, disabilities or other status; reiterates its call for the EU to combat discrimination and intolerance as a key part of its human rights policy, and to base this policy on an inclusive and comprehensive definition of non-discrimination; emphasises that respect for the rights of minorities is a crucial factor for peace, development and democracy; welcomes and further encourages EU engagement with the United Nations and regional organisations in this cause;
  • 112.  Calls for the EU to pay particular attention to discrimination based on forms of social stratification, such as caste and analogous systems of inherited status, which have a seriously harmful and sometimes destructive impact on the prospects for equal enjoyment of human rights; considers that those countries where a caste system still exists should be urged to prohibit it and ensure that laws against the caste system are genuinely implemented;

Full text of the resolution

EP resolution on the MDGs – defining the post-2015 framework

On 13 June 2013, the European Parliament adopted a resolution (2012/2289(INI)) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – defining the post-2105 framework. The resolution urged the EU to adopt a common, effective and ambitious position on the principles and goals that should be part of the new post-2015 development framework. The resolution included the following caste-related references:

  • 45.  Calls for human rights principles to underpin the post-2015 framework, which must address, in particular, issues of inequality, harmful traditional practices, discrimination, gender-based violence, participation and the empowerment of marginalised and disadvantaged people in society, with special attention being paid to the rights of young people, women, migrants, people living with HIV, people suffering caste-based discrimination, LGBT-persons and persons with disabilities;
  • 49.  Encourages the EU to support developing countries in building up their political will and in increasing efforts to improve the level of ratification and implementation of legal human rights instruments to prohibit discrimination or any legal, policy, or regulatory barriers and punitive provision based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, caste, culture, religion, belief, marital status, disability, HIV status, national origin, migration status, language skills, sexual orientation, gender identity or other factors or status; also encourages the EU to support developing countries in introducing appropriate social protection floors;

Read the full text of the resolution here

Read a summary of the resolution here

EP resolution on violence against women in India

On 17 january 2013, the European Parliament debated and adopted a resolution (2013/2512(RSP)) on violence against women in India. The text included numerous references to caste discrimination:

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on India, in particular that of 13 December 2012 on caste discrimination;

–  having regard to the Draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent;

  • J.  whereas women and girls affected by caste-based discrimination are particularly vulnerable to various forms of sexual violence, forced and ritual prostitution, trafficking, and domestic and punitive violence when they seek justice for crimes committed, as the well-known Pipili Gang rape case of 29 November 2011 once again demonstrated, with the authorities refusing to register the case and the girl victim only receiving proper treatment after a High Court intervened, though she later succumbed to the injuries sustained;
  • 15.  Expresses its deep concern at the widespread violence perpetrated against Dalit women and girls in India, including sexual violence by men from the dominant castes, and at the extraordinarily high level of impunity for perpetrators in such cases; calls on the Government of India to treat all cases of sexual violence towards all women equally, and to investigate and prosecute such cases in an equal, fair, transparent and speedy manner;

Read the full text of the resolution here

IDSN news story on the resolution

EP resolution on Annual Report on human rights in the world 2011

In December 2012, the European Parliament adopted resolution (2012/2145(INI)) on the annual report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2011 and the European Union’s policy on the matter. The resolution included the following text on caste-based discrimination:

– having regard to the draft UN Principles and Guidelines on effective elimination of discrimination based on Work and Descent published by the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/11/CRP.3),

– having regard to observations and recommendations on caste discrimination by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Treaty Bodies and UN Special Procedures, noting in particular the Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of 24 May 2011 (A/HRC/17/40),

  • 117. Condemns the continued human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste-based discrimination, including the denial of equality and access to justice, continued segregation and caste-induced barriers to the achievement of basic human rights; requests the Council, the EEAS and the Commission to take joint action on caste-based discrimination, including in EU human rights communications, frameworks and country-based strategies and dialogues, wherever appropriate, and to promote the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the elimination of discrimination based on Work and Descent as a guiding framework to eliminate caste discrimination, and work for their endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council;

118. Requests the VP/HR and the Special Representative for Human Rights to give full recognition to caste discrimination as a cross-cutting issue of human rights and poverty with severe implications, in particular for women.

The full text of the resolution can be found here

IDSN news story on the resolution

EP resolution on Annual Report on human rights in the world 2010

The European Parliament resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2010 was adopted on 18 April 2012. It highlights caste discrimination and “Recommends initiatives for EU legislation to ensure that attention is paid in EU human rights policy and cooperation instruments to eliminating caste discrimination, and action in caste-affected countries, including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Yemen.”

The full resolution can be found here

EP resolution on Annual Report on human rights in the world 2009

The report by MEP Laima Liucija Andrikienė on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2009 and the European Union’s policy on the matter was adopted by the EP on 16 December 2010. The report has two references to caste, the first being a call for recognition of the fact that minorities, such as  indigenous groups and people discriminated against because of their caste are disproportionately vulnerable and subjected to torture. The second reference is in article 159 which deals with human rights dialogues with third countries and calls for follow up to the dialogues. The specific reference to the EU-India human rights dialogue regrets that the issue of caste-based discrimination was not discussed at the last dialogue.

The full resolution can be found here

Sharelines